Yesterday was an unseasonably beautiful day. After weeks of cold and wet weather which kept us cooped up in the house (what many of you probably call Fall), the weather suddenly turned sunny and warm. I took the kids to one of our favorite parks to go hiking and spend some Sabbath rest together.
We walked along paths carved by rain water, twists and turns created as running water tried to find the fastest way down the hill. As the kids were enjoying running and jumping along the “zig zag path,” I noticed a train track running almost parallel to us.
The juxtaposition of winding paths created by nature and the straight lines of a railroad track created by man.
We desire straight paths for our lives. We build straight tracks for trains, straight roads for cars, and pray to God for clear direction and straight paths for our lives.
How much of our struggle is desiring the clear, straight path, yet always finding a winding one?
We seldom find straight paths for our lives. As we journey through life, we go through twists and turns, hit dead ends and have to turn around, or take a wrong turn and wander lost for a while until we rejoin the path.
As my children and I took turns choosing which turn to take, which fork in the road to choose, I thought how much like life these choices are. I didn’t have a map of the park to help us choose, hadn’t walked these paths before. We based our choices on which path looked clear and inviting and most beckoned to our hearts.
In life, we also have to make choices, decide which fork in the road to take. Often we pray for guidance, for discernment, for God to illuminate the straight path. We don’t want to take the winding road, the detours, the wrong turn. We want the right answer and we want a clear, straight path.
What if, instead, we embraced the winding path in our lives?
Even the twists and turns, detours, dead ends, and wrong turns can enhance our journey. Sure, we should try to avoid the treacherous paths, the ones God doesn’t have planned for us. But, what if God has purpose in the winding path, in the uncertainty of trusting Him to be our guide?
As we hiked, we turn a turn that led us to creek. It was beautiful there in the creek bed and we enjoyed some time to pause and skip rocks in the water. As I looked at the path, I noticed it continued on the other side of the creek. The water was too high to cross in this season, so we were at a dead end; but, in another season when the creek was dry, the path would continue.
In this season, our path led to a pause, a time of reflection, a momentary detour, but was one of the highlights of our hike. In another season, it would have served a different purpose. What if we viewed some of our life’s detours this way, too?
Any path, even one that twists and turns, can be good as long as God’s walking it with us.
I want to remember this hike as I continue to step into God’s journey this year. I don’t have a map for where He’s leading and maybe I should stop asking for one. Instead of trying to figure out where He’s leading me and what it all means, maybe I just need to choose the most inviting path and just follow. Even if the path has twists and turns or leads to a dead-end, there will be learning and experiences along the way, maybe even a pause or two to soak in the beauty of God’s world around me.
The path I want is straight and clear in following God, not straight because I have carved out my own path.
[callout]Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)[/callout]